August 30, 2011

Controlling Acid Reflux

Acid reflux disease, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, affects no fewer than 20% of the American populace on a regular basis. When the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, does not close completely, or if it opens too frequently, the acids that are produced by the stomach creep up into the esophagus, resulting in the uncomfortable chest pain known as heartburn. Other symptoms can include wheezing, dysphagia, dry cough, or problems affecting the ears and the vocal cords. But how does the acid reflux sufferer get relief? Read on for tips about controlling acid reflux and making life more comfortable.

Several lifestyle choices can trigger acid reflux, such as obesity and smoking, but it can also occur if you consume a large meal or lay down immediately after eating. Pregnant women are susceptible to acid reflux as are people who take ibuprofen, aspirin, or blood pressure or muscle relaxing medications, and foods such as garlic, tomatoes, citrus, chocolate, or fatty or spicy foods can also trigger an attack. People suffering from hiatal hernias are prone to acid reflux due to the dislocation of the upper stomach and the lower esophageal sphincter; this can force acid into the esophagus, causing the acid reflux symptoms to rear their heads.

There are a number of different therapies that can treat acid reflux disease, ranging from prescription or non-prescription drugs to herbal therapies. These various treatments effectively treat the symptoms of acid reflux as well as heal any sort of abrasions that result from the excessive acid, and they can also prevent any further complications related to the disease. People who suffer from relatively mild acid reflux disease can keep it at bay with a few simple actions: avoid eating two to three hours prior to lying down for the night, consume snacks throughout the day in lieu of heavy meals, elevate the head of the bed, stop smoking, and lose weight through diet and exercise. Antacids are also helpful to neutralize the stomach acids, but they can have some side effects if they are used with frequency.

For people who suffer from very severe acid reflux, their physician might prescribe stronger medication. An H2 blocker, such as Pepcid or Zantac, can help to reduce the acid formation in the esophagus; however, if these drugs are unsuccessful in treating the issue, the next step might be a proton pump inhibitor, such as Nexium, Prevacid, or Prilosec. These drugs will reduce the stomach acid, and most of them are available over the counter, eliminating the need to obtain a prescription. Another option is a prokinetic agent, such as Reglan or Urecholine, which can give the patient immediate relief by emptying the contents of the stomach more quickly and strengthening the lower esophageal sphincter, but this drug carries along with it more potential side effects. People suffering from the effects of acid reflux should consult their physician; this disease is easily treatable, and it should be treated sooner rather than later to prevent any damage to the esophagus.

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